It seems that if enough people complain, even a mighty hotel chain that has a history of showing disdain toward elite members will back down. In the case of the new St. Regis in Chicago, top-tier elites will now receive free breakfast after the hotel initially denied this benefit on rather absurd grounds.
St. Regis Chicago Will Offer Breakfast Benefit After All – An Important Lesson
I don’t actually have a dog in this fight since I’m not a Marriott guy and have no plans to ever stay at the St. Regis Hotel in Chicago (though I did love the St. Regis in Amman, Jordan). That said, this issue matters because if Marriott hotels can get away with it, that means Hyatt hotels might be emboldened to try similar tactics (my loyalty is to Hyatt).
The St. Regis Chicago opened last week and flummoxed Marriott elites by denying complimentary breakfast as an elite benefit. Platinum, Titanium, and Ambassador are entitled, per Marriott Bonvoy terms and conditions, to a choice of breakfast as their welcome amenity.
But at the St. Regis Chicago, elites were told that free breakfast would not be offered because the restaurant was managed by a third party. That’s a fallacious excuse that does not stop other St. Regis hotels with similar restaurant arrangements from offering breakfast and is not a valid reason to deny this benefit per Bonvoy program rules.
Many blogged about it. Many wrote Marriott. Others took to social media. Anthony from The Bulkhead Seat blog on Boarding Area was actually a hotel guest who was denied breakfast. On Sunday, he reported that the hotel backtracked and will offer free breakfast to top-tier elites after all. Nice work, Anthony (and Ben and Gary). Nice work Flyertalk.
You have to wonder what went through the minds of the dullards who run that property to withhold this benefit in the first place, but I am glad to see they caved in.
And it does show the power of bloggers to influence policy to the benefit of all elite guests. Hotels will be shamed when they failed to honor elite benefits and this is not a self-centered expression of entitlement, but the two-way street that is at the core of loyalty.
One last note. Ben mocked some of his readers for arguing that guests who could afford an $800/night hotel room can also afford to pay for breakfast. I must do so as well. What a stupid lack of logic. So let me get this straight…guests should also bring their own toilet paper, towels, pillows, coffee, and soap because they can afford it, right?
No. Breakfast is an important benefit that recognizes all the nights it takes to be an elite member of Marriott Bonvoy. It is not a benefit to be disregarded for spurious reasons, as if we are all stupid. This hotel should be ashamed of itself for nickel and diming in the first place.
Let the case study of the St. Regis Chicago be a warning to would-be hotel owners who want to reap the benefits of a well-known brand but fail to abide by the obligations that come with that partnership. Any hotel that might be tempted to follow suit should be on notice that it will be similarly held accountable.